CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways may have an uphill climb convincing some West Virginians to support a $1 billion bond issue to help fund state roads.
Apparently, that includes the governor himself.
"I'm not sure a bond issue of that magnitude at this time is something we want to get into, but I'll reserve judgment until I see the final report," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Thursday of the commission's recommendation.
The 31-member commission, appointed by the governor about 13 months ago, on Wednesday went over funding recommendations it will submit to Tomblin at the end of the month. That included the $1 billion bond issue, to be financed by continuing tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike for an additional 30 years.
"They've put a great deal of thought and effort into this over the past 12 months," Tomblin said of the commission's work. "I'll be going through each and every page of the report thoroughly, to determine what we'll be asking the Legislature to do."
In addition to the bond proposal, the commission will recommend increasing most Division of Motor Vehicles fees, many of which have been unchanged for 30 years or more, to raise about $77 million a year.
They also endorsed new registration fees of $200 a year for alternative fuel vehicles, and $100 a year for gas/electric hybrids, as well as shifting about $25 million a year in sales taxes to the state Road Fund.
Once the Tomblin administration determines which recommendations to submit to the Legislature in January, the bills likely will be first headed to the Senate Transportation and House Roads and Transportation committees.
House Roads and Transportation Committee Chairwoman Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, said Thursday she's generally supportive of the commission's recommendations.
"I believe the fact we had input from around the state, and this isn't just someone writing bills down in Charleston is important," she said Thursday.
During the summer, the commission conducted nine public hearings around the state, and got nearly 1,400 responses to a survey on ways to fund state highways.